Shortly after Chad Morris joined the Clemson football staff, coach Dabo Swinney planned for the inevitability that — sooner or later — he would need to replace his offensive coordinator.
Swinney found himself in a holding pattern this week wondering who would be calling plays for Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU should Morris receive an offer to become coach at Texas Tech.
Texas Tech flew athletics director Kirby Hocutt to the Upstate on Tuesday to discuss the vacancy with Morris. Three days earlier, Tommy Tuberville had ditched Tech for Cincinnati.
Morris and Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury were the initial frontrunners. Both are native Texans. Morris attended A&M and was a successful high school coach in Texas before joining the staff at Tulsa for one year and catching Swinney’s eye.
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Kingsbury, 33, played at Texas Tech and was Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s coach this season at A&M.
The apparently was enough as Texas Tech hired Kingsbury late Wednesday, allowing Swinney to exhale in relief.
While Hocutt reportedly was serving as a one-man search committee, he was required to run his choice by the school president and the Texas Tech University Board of Regents. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the Board had meetings scheduled Thursday and Friday.
“He had a great interview with the AD from Texas Tech. That would be a great situation for him,” Swinney said before the Texas Tech hiring.
“If not, he’s got a great situation here.”
Since the South Carolina game, Morris’ name has been frequently mentioned in a myriad of openings, and he was reportedly interviewed for openings at Auburn and N.C. State.
With bowl preparation and recruiting about to hit passing gears, Swinney hoped for a swift resolution.
“Hopefully all that stuff will be resolved here sometime in the near future one way or another,” he said. “I can’t imagine that it would drag on for too long.”
Should Morris ever leave, Clemson would retain the offensive brand.
“It’s not a Chad Morris offense, it’s a Clemson offense,” Swinney said. “We hired Chad because it was what we wanted to do philosophically.
“I’m always keeping up with guys in the profession, always challenging our guys here to grow. So, we’ll have no shortage of very quality people if that were to happen.”
Swinney said was not in a rush to replace co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Charlie Harbison, who accepted a similar job at Auburn. Two members of the support staff have temporarily assumed some of Harbison’s on-field duties, but expectations are that an outside candidate would fill the job permanently.
“We’ll definitely have that done by the time we get back together as a team after the bowl game,” Swinney said. “No shortage of great candidates.”